Ask the Perfumer 6/16/2013 Rosemary is for Remembrance

by | Jun 16, 2013 | Herbalism, natural perfume, raw materials of perfumery | 8 comments

Happy Father’s Day and by the serendipity of a delivery of numerous rosemary plants this week, I want to tie today in with the legendary significance of the meaning of rosemary: remembrance.  Rosemary for rememberance

There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance; pray you, love,
remember. And there is pansies, that’s for thoughts.
-William Shakespeare (Hamlet, Act 4, Scene 5)

“As for rosemary, I let it run all over my garden walls, not only because my bees love it but because it is the herb sacred to remembrance and to friendship, whence a sprig of it hath a dumb language.”
– Sir Thomas More (1478-1535) British writer, statesman and philosopher

So today, as we remember our fathers, or, perhaps, as we may like to start a tradition, use some rosemary in a meal we cook for our dads, or search out an aftershave or cologne that contains rosemary.  To bring the blog back to the subject of perfumery, rosemary, which is an aromatic, herbaceous, somewhat camphorous scent, is more often used in men’s fragrances than womens.

More for culinary and aesthetic reasons, I’ve decided to start a rosemary garden under a portion of one of my heritage oak trees. Here’s what I got:

Three Rosemary officinalis

Two R. officinalis var. Tuscan Blue

One each: R. officinalis var. Severn Seas (not a typo, not Seven), Majorca Pink (flowers), Alba (white flowers), Barbeque (stiff stems for skewering food for the barbeque) and Gorizia.  I had to restrain myself from the heady list of other rosemarys at because I was looking for leaf and flower differences.  I stayed away from the prostate varieties, looking for height, but if you have a slope in your garden, or a rock garden, the prostate varieties will suit you.  I’ve been buying from Companion Plants for years, and they have great stock, very, very tempting stock, so be prepared 😉

I’ll be here until 10 PM ET USA today to answer your perfumery questions.  If you post after that time, I don’t monitor late posts, so you won’t get an answer.  Try again next week, and I’ll be sure to answer your question.

Take care and have a lovely Father’s day.


  1. einsof

    Rosemary remembered:

    tincturing the rosemary growing on the balcony in Amsterdam to show my host family what natural perfumey means… and then using it to clean the apartment to their delight.

    it’s definitely a clearer of cobwebs, a warm companion in the sick room, and somewhere (in my opinion) between masculine & feminine energies, although i don’t think it’s considered an adaptogen.

    the mmore you talk about these beautiful gardens, the more i know where i will sleep if i am homeless. 😉 (kidding. kind of.)

    and thank you for the very sweet idea of starting a tradition of rosemary to remember your father. my father has traveled so far downthe path of Alzheimer’s, one never knows what he will remember or rearrange as memory. i’m going to create a loving rosemary infused environment and talk about some of his favorite memories with him.

    thank you for this beautiful idea. i think he will enjoy this very very much.

    much light & love, einsof

    • Anya

      Dear einsof:

      Rosemary has so many lovely, helpful uses! Of course, the species officinalis means it was officially recognized by Linneaus as having medicinal properties. Just boiling some, or using the hydrosol is great as a skin and hair wash, especially for dark hair, or for folks with dandruff. That’s only the tip of the medicinal uses. Yes, it is great for cleaning, leaving a refreshing scent. It’s also good as a room spray!

      Aromatherapists tell us rosemary helps sharpen the mind, so it’s good to sniff before exams of other mentally-challenging events, so it would be perfect for the visit with your father.

      PS there is a monkey loose in my part of Miami, and I keep thinking my fragrant garden, replete with ripening pineapples, may attract him. You may have a roommate!


  2. Suzy

    Fascinated by Rosemary! I understand there are three Chemotypes of Rosemary (that I’m familiar with) that are distilled into essential oils. One is CT camphor, another is CT 1.8 cineole, and finally CT verbenone. Which would be the most appropriate to use in a men’s cologne? Which would be best for rememberence?

    • Anya

      Hi Suzy:

      There are many more chemotypes than three: linalool, borneol, 1,8-cineole, camphor, -pinene, and verberone. They’re all R. officinalis, modified by terroir – their location, which determines temperature, amount of sunlight, water, etc. Rosemary is a great choice to perform an Aromatic Groups Organoleptic evaluation on, using the form students use in Module 3. Sample as many rosemary chemotype oils from as many countries as you wish, making sure to get a real spectrum of climates. You’ll find the hotter and drier the climate, the more camphorous the rosemary oil. Cooler climate? Nice soft verberone will predominate. Elise Pearlstine brought me a beautiful verberone from England that smells exactly like fresh rosemary, a real gem, since most don’t!

      Now, the choice of which oil to use is up to you for the men’s cologne, perhaps an accord of several. As an instructor, I don’t tell students the subjective answer, or give formulas – I give them the tools to find the answer themselves 😉

      As far as remembrance – I think all work beautifully for this purpose.


      • Suzy

        Thanks Anya, I have two in my possession right now. One from France and one from Spain. I even have Rosemary Flower from South Africa (which I believe to be just another rosemary since it’s R. officinale). You’ve given me some great keys to go by and I have all three on my AGO eval. form to do in the next day. With appreciation, Suzy

  3. leathermountain

    What are the best, most up-to-date texts on fragrance chemistry?

    Thank you for suggesting I contact the FIT program, and for letting me ask you more questions!!

    • Anya

      Hi — don’t know your name, please sign your posts, that would help.

      I can highly recommend this book
      and the workbook that accompanies it

      Allured Books are Guild members, and use the code Anya30 at checkout for a 30% discount. On the first page you’ll see a box on the left that says contact Marie Kuta for school discounts. Contact her if you want multiple copies, tell her I sent you. We’ve been working together for a decade, she’ll be very helpful.


      • leathermountain

        This is fantastic! I’ve had my eye on those books but no chance to flip through them and see if they were worth the investment. Your recommendation plus the discount made it an easy decision. I can’t wait to receive my delivery and start studying. Thank you so much! If the texts seem appropriate for my students I will certainly contact Marie Kuta as well. I am so grateful for your guidance.


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